Washington, D.C. Senior Justice Department officials broke civil service laws by rejecting scores of young applicants who had links to Democrats or liberal organizations, according to a biting report issued Tuesday.
The report by the Justice Department inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that a pair of high-ranking political appointees who are no longer with the department had violated department policy and the Civil Service Reform Act by using ideological reasons to scuttle the candidacy of lawyers who applied to the elite honors and summer intern programs.
In one instance, steering committee member Esther Slater McDonald deemed "unacceptable" an applicant who professed admiration for the environmental group Greenaction and passed over another with ties to the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, the report said.
McDonald, who left the Justice Department last year and now works for a law firm in Washington, sent colleagues a Nov. 29, 2006, e-mail in which she complained about "leftist commentary and buzzwords" in applications. Many of the underlying documents, on which McDonald and others wrote comments, were destroyed before the probe began, according to the report.